Salem Watch: Eugene Senator will amend bike trailer bill

Posted by on March 2nd, 2011 at 9:51 am

Sen. Floyd Prozanski.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) says he will amend SB 846, a bill he introduced last month that would have required all new bicycle trailers sold in Oregon to meet a minimum set of safety standards.

In an email to Eugene-area bike advocates, Prozanksi wrote:

“I just learned from ODOT the cost for implementing SB 846. Due to our budget shortfall, I will be amending the bill to just require retailers (including on-line sales) to place a sticker on passenger trailers stating whether or not the trailer meets or surpasses the ATSM standards.”


Prozanski proposed the bill after the controversial HB 2228, which seeks to ban children six years and under from being pulled in trailers or ridden in bike seats. That bill, proposed by Portland Democrat Mitch Greenlick, spurred serious concerns by many, including Eugene-based trailer company Burley. When the company contacted Prozanski with their concerns, he says they also suggested that it was time for Oregon to require all bike trailers intended for passenger use to meet a safety standard. In its original form, SB 846 called for ODOT to come up with its own set of standards that trailers would have to meet.

Prozanski’s idea rankled some Eugene-area bike advocates who felt it was a solution looking for a problem and that it could be a “back door” avenue to more draconian bike safety measures.

Here’s more on the issue from the Prozanski email:

“I have to believe parents who are looking to purchase a passenger trailer to transport their kids would want to buy a trailer that meets minimum safety standards. In fact, if I bought a trailer assuming it met safety standards like many other consumer goods only to find out that it did not, I’d be extremely mad and upset, especially if my child was injured due to the trailer failing to be crash worthy.”

I’ve requested a copy of the new language and will update this post when I receive it.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

22
Leave a Reply

avatar
14 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
wsbobOpus the PoetsoreborePdxMarkdwainedibbly Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

Minimal safety standards for passenger carrying bike trailers make sense. We have minimal standards for bikes, planes, cars and even roller blades, so why not have standards for bike trailers?

Of course, no one seems to have any data on how many kids, if any, have been hurt due to a flaw in bike trailer.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

This seams to me to be a reasonable solution

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

That of course should be “seems”

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

As long as an auto-first DOT doesn’t get to set the standard for non-auto requirements. There is a long and bountiful history of abusing safety requirements to keep “those people” off “our roads”.

Like:
Lawrence, KS: All cars entering the city limits must first sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.
State of OK: Cars must be tethered outside of public buildings.
Pennsylvania: Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass. If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart, piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes.

beth h
Guest

Of course, no one is addressing:

a. the cost of having stickers made;
b. whether the stickers would need to be authorized by the ATSM;
c. the reality that trailer sales have fallen off sharply (at least in the Portland area) as more families are switching to cargo bikes for their child portage needs and those who are buying trailers are often buying them online to save money;
d. how this law would be enforced for online reattilers based out-of-state.

Again, this is a solution looking for a problem that I’m not convinced really exists.

Vladislav Davidzon
Guest

Let’s get this right. We’re in the midst of two wars, our country is going broke, we got tens of thousands of people dying in car crashes every single year, and we got this tiny issue of global warming coming up.

How many kids and adults die each year of diseases that could be completely prevented (like cancer) if the honorable legislator chose to invest his time into forcing the entire food industry to go organic/pesticide+gmo-free? How many kids could get to live full lives if he chose to pursue things that make our vehicles safer for pedestrians?

I mean really sir. If you want to make the roads safer, why not put forth a bill requiring mandatory passenger-protection devices that are standard in many other countries (like guards on the sides underneath semi-trucks) to be required?

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And freaking shameful.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Anybody looking to sell trailers, I would think, would already be eager to advertise any selling points they possibly could–including whether or not their particular trailer exceeds such-and-such standard. The only thing it seems like we would need a law for is to force retailers selling sub-standard trailers to make that point obvious. E.g., THIS TRAILER DOES NOT MEET ATSM SAFETY STANDARDS. But then you have to have a law that dictates the font size of the word “NOT” relative to the rest of the text on the sticker…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Anybody looking to sell trailers, I would think, would already be eager to advertise any selling points they possibly could–including whether or not their particular trailer exceeds such-and-such standard. …” El Biciclero

If companies or stores looking to sell trailers made false claims that their products or merchandise met or exceeded specified standards, they could be in big trouble.

Some, but not all manufacturers and stores are primarily concerned with making money, and doing it by moving the cheapest, poorly constructed, most eye catching crap. Despite this difficult to avoid phenomena of certain people’s entrepreneurial nature, people commenting to stories about this bill here at bikeportland have remarked that, from what they’ve been able to see and hear, poorly constructed bike trailers falling apart hasn’t been a big problem.

Which gets back to the question of why Representative Mitch Greenlick originally proposed a bill for a law seeking to address the inherent safety of children being transported by bike and bike trailer. His concern for safety was commendable, but in seeking to address it, he missed the mark.

Prozanski stepped in, working to modify the bill Greenlick sponsored, but unfortunately, Prozanski kind of missed the mark too. Neither of those guys quite caught on to the more visible, obvious, probably not too difficult or expensive means by which bike trailers and other child carrying bike type vehicles could have been made safer.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“”I just learned from ODOT the cost for implementing SB 846. …” Sen. Floyd Prozanski

What was the cost, and what did it entail?

Unlike peoples comments that waxed on and wore out the tired ‘solution looking for a problem’ refrain, I believe this bill could have provided a means of guiding bike trailer and other child carrying bike vehicles towards raising the level of safety their products provide kids that ride in them and on them.

Maybe though, rather than a bill that required manufacturers to implement adhere to a common standard, what should have been attempted was a bill to upgrade visibility standards for bike trailer and other child carrying bike vehicles as provided for in the Oregon’s statutes.

Bike and trailer construction probably isn’t that big a problem (although efforts to provide trailer occupants with at least some impact resistance might be worthy.), but visibility is. Especially on bike trailers and other child carrying bike vehicles, dinky little minimum requirement dim reflectors and blinky lights aren’t really adequate for today’s traffic conditions.

Unlike a single bike, bike trailers, bakfiets, cargo bikes and so forth, generally have a much larger back surface and side area which naturally lends itself to larger, brighter, more visible reflectors, signage and lights. Taking advantage of that surface area to make these conveyances more visible could help to reduce danger and tension on the road.

snolly
Guest
snolly

shouldn’t that be ASTM?
American Society for Testing and Materials

Brian E.
Guest
Brian E.

Funny, the bikes that pull the trailers don’t have to meet any ASTM standards.

are
Guest
Opus the Poet
Guest

Bikes and trailers are currently under the jurisdiction of the CPSC of the Federal government, and Feds trump states in matters of commerce. So even if this law passed it could not be enforced for retailers that had outlets outside of OR. This would put the major retailers at even a greater advantage over local vendors than they already have, thereby siphoning income out of the state even more than is presently the case…

Julian
Guest

But what about the Mitch Greenlick Seal of Disapproval stickers?

If they could save one child, then I think we should require those too.

PdxMark
Guest
PdxMark

Has anyone read the standard, ASTM F1975 – 09 “Standard Specification for Nonpowered Bicycle Trailers Designed for Human Passengers” at http://www.astm.org ? The 8 page pdf is $39.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

That’s kind of funny. Not really. Go to Burley’s website. Burley lists the names of the various standards it builds its products according to, but doesn’t make the standards available to its customers or potential customers to read on the website.

So how is someone that buys a Burley product able to determine by specs, just how much better their Burley trailer is compared to the cheap WalMart imported Bangladesh made trailer? Maybe a copy of the standards is included with each product sold.

I haven’t read the ASTM specs, but I get the impression some people reading and commenting to the threads relating to Greenlick’s and Prozanski’s bill have. Amongst the comments, two or three people have excerpted/copied and pasted some of those specs in to their comments. I didn’t go search the comments to find them, but it shouldn’t be too hard.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

The Sticker Lobby wins again!

PdxMark
Guest
PdxMark

The $39 fee for a copy of the standard includes a very strong-worded license preventing publication of the standard or portions of it, so I don’t think Burley would be inclined to post it, and anyone else who does runs some risk of action from ASTM.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Does anyone know of any study or statistics regarding injuries and or fatalities of children due to workmanship or quality of ANY brand of trailer? Our child spent 1/3 of his days in a Chariot trailer, EVERY day of his life [from 7days old -4 years]. We took normal precautions to insure his safety, abused the trailer beyond it’s normal functions, and even turned it upside down ,coming to a grinding halt more than THREE times at least! I am certainly not advocating our sometimes robust activities for everyone but at the same time it seems that people look for problems that are not there. If there is a product that is faulty, more often than not its failures are shown quickly and recalls are submitted. I would like to know of any specific examples of product failure in this regard. Being in my workplace, in this environment, and surrounded by SO MANY like minded parents and cyclist’s I am more than sure that awareness of dire dangers would have surfaced in many conversations had we heard of them. P.S. my boy always LOVED it when the trailer tipped over. just sayin’ . peace.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Set all those considerations aside for a second, because perhaps occurrences of injury and death shouldn’t alone be the incentive by which safety improvements are made to means by which people transport themselves….and ask yourself this question: Are there ways that child carrying bike trailers could, by way of their construction and appearance to road users, be easily made a safer means to transport kids?

And if you and your workplace friends think possibly so, do they think it also might be beneficial to kids being transported, and the road users that must watch out for them when they’re in traffic, if all bike trailers used on the road, met a certain recognized standard for safety consisting of specs for such a standard?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Any product can be made “safe”, but there really is a point where it doesn’t matter what you do if “safety” is predicated on the actions of others. Changing from one color to another once you go from camo or dark grey to something like Lemon or Bright Blue isn’t going to help much if the person processing doesn’t see anything smaller than say, a Mini Clubman. Since I don’t see many kid trailers in camo patterns (actually I think those are really camping trailers in the Woodland Camo pattern) I don’t think we need to legislate colors. You can’t legislate based on “shoulda, coulda, woulda” when the primary cause of injury is not the person operating the device but someone external to the problem, and most of the “problem” is between that person’s ears.

You could eliminate all wrecks with motor vehicles by banning the use of motor vehicles. Since wrecks with motor vehicles are the major element you seem to be harping on, perhaps you should move your efforts to that cause.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’ve seen child carrying bike trailers in use whose basic passenger compartment wasn’t particularly visible for a number of reasons, such as: various fabric or panels surrounding the passenger compartment that were being relied upon by the trailers designers to affect visibility, were either not well designed to accomplish this, weren’t very visible by way of the age and fading, or didn’t represent even an effort to create visibility.

As far as I know, for lighting, bike trailers aren’t required to have lighting beyond the rear blinky that any bike is required to have for lighting.

Considering that a child carrying bike trailer is typically of a lower height than either bikes and their riders or almost all motor vehicles, these trailers can be visually less easy to detect on the road than an adult rider on for example, a traditional style road bike or a cruiser.

A bit of regulation could easily and afford-ably allow child carrying bike trailers to be more visible to road users by way of establishing a minimum square area of reflectors, possibly in the form of words or symbols. Additional lighting over that required for a single bike is worth considering too.

Barring some major, world wide catastrophe, there’s no way motor vehicles are going to be eliminated from the road, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s not an attainable goal. Doing simple things to have child carrying bike trailers become safer by having them become more easily visible to road users is attainable.